Philodendron Birkin is the newest trendy houseplant (Just like the Neon Philodendron).
You may have heard of it or not, but this beautiful variegated plant has made its way into the homes of many plant lovers.
With their large, deep green leaves and their creamy white pinstripes, Birkins are gaining in popularity.
Sometimes also called Philodendron White Wave, these cultivars (which means plants that have been produced in cultivation by selective breeding) have a debated origin.
Named after the famous Birkin handbag collection by Hermès, the most common theory is that Philodendron Birkin was born from a spontaneous mutation of the Philodendron Rojo Congo.
Another assumption is that it came to existence after a cross-breeding between Philodendron Rojo Congo and Philodendron Imperial Green.
Whatever the real story, the fact is that Birkins do not grow in the wild. Furthermore, they are ideal for beginners because they are relatively easy to grow.
Two other characteristics of this plant are that it is slow-growing and self-heading (unlike Monsteras for example). Therefore, it doesn’t need to climb, and it can support itself.
However, its variegation is unstable, so it can sometimes produce completely white leaves or even revert to green leaves.
In this ultimate guide, we will explain everything you need to know about these gorgeous plants.
Philodendrons are tropical plants just like Hoyas. Therefore, they are used to grow below tall trees that protect them from direct sunlight.
Consequently, direct sunlight will harm the leaves and dry out your Philodendron Birkin. Indeed, the plant will get sunburns, and its leaves will start to wilt away.
Birkins love medium to bright indirect light (the sun’s rays must bounce off something first before reaching the plant). That means that the perfect spot for your plant is on an east-facing windowsill.
So, you will have to avoid windows in sunny rooms or the outdoors.
On the other hand, Birkins won’t grow much in low to medium light, and their leaves will grow apart. In addition, the stem will start to sag.
Additionally, you will notice that the plant will naturally grow towards a light source. Another consequence of low lighting is that the plant will lose its pinstripes.
Keep in mind that the quality of light is impactful on your plant’s variegation. Indeed, good lighting will produce bright white leaves. On the contrary, bad lighting will make your plants revert to dark green.
You can determine whether your plant is getting good lighting in two ways.
First, you can inspect the shadow your plant casts. If it’s a soft one, then you’re good. However, if the shadow is strong, then you should move your plant to somewhere else.
Second, you can buy a light monitor to get an accurate measurement.
If you don’t have any good spots for your Philodendron Birkin, there is another effective solution.
Fluorescent and LED lights are great alternatives to sunlight. Birkins will thrive under them. Moreover, grow lights are perfect during winter when there isn’t enough daylight.
Also, you should reposition your plant throughout the year since your home lighting will change with each season.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when watering Birkins. The most important rule is to avoid overwatering.
Although they love water, Birkins will suffer and die from overwatering.
Therefore, you should follow precise steps when watering. Here is what we advise you to do:
- Start watering once per week.
Birkins love humidity and water. Consequently, you will have to water them often but not too much.
Overwatering will lead to yellow leaves, and ultimately, your plant’s dying.
On the other hand, too little water and you risk losing your plant to underwatering. In that case, the leaves will start wilting and turning brown.
- Let the first inch of soil dry out before watering again.
Before rewatering, you must inspect the top inch of soil.
It is necessary to make sure that it has dried up to avoid overwatering.
You can examine the soil with your fingers or with a moister meter.
If it sticks to your fingers after you take it out, then it is still damp, and you must wait.
- Keep the soil damp during summer.
Like we’ve said before, watering your plant once per week is a good rule of thumb.
However, you will have to adjust your watering pattern to each season.
Therefore, during summer, when temperatures are high and light abundant, you must keep the soil damp because it will dry out faster.
- Let the soil dry out during winter.
During winter, you should do the opposite. Indeed, you will have to let the soil dry out before watering again.
Since the temperatures are low and light is rare, your plant should endure longer periods between waterings.
- Adjust your watering pattern with light and temperature
Hence, you must adjust your waterings with seasons.
Twice a week during hot summer days is often necessary, especially since plants grow in spring and summer.
On the other hand, once every two weeks is common during winter.
- Keep drainage in mind.
We can’t stress this point enough: avoid root rot.
If your plant’s roots sit in water for too long, they will rot, and it will die.
The solution to this problem is drainage. So whenever you water your plant, make sure that excess water exits through the drainage hole.
- You can use tap water.
Lukewarm tap water will be fine for watering.
Although, we would advise you to let it sit out overnight so the chlorine can dissipate.
You can also change to rainwater during winter, which also may be practical.
After lighting and watering, let’s talk about soil.
Philodendron Birkin likes soil that drains well but retains water.
Furthermore, it needs to be airy to allow oxygen to reach the roots.
Therefore, you must choose soil that balances draining with absorption.
In other words, it should stay moist for a few days before drying up.
Also, the mixt must allow excess water to drain, preventing waterlogging and hence root rot.
For all of these reasons, the soil must contain:
- Perlite: This natural volcanic mineral is perfect for drainage and aeration.
- Sphagnum moss: which acts as a living sponge for excellent water retention.
- Organic potting mix.
You can also add activated charcoal in case the pot doesn’t have a drainage hole.
In addition, Orchid bark can replace Perlite for drainage.
However, we would recommend Perlite as we have had good results with it.
You can use Vermiculite as well for aeration and coco fiber for the same purpose.
Coarse sand is another element that improves drainage and aeration. You can learn more here.
For beginners, we advise you to buy an aroid specialist mix from Etsy.
We strongly advise you to use a pot with a drainage hole.
Containers without a drainage hole increase the risk of root rot.
Indeed, if excess water isn’t allowed to exit through a hole, it will harm your plant.
Also, know that Terracotta pots might dry out too quickly.
So we would suggest you use a glazed or plastic container with a drainage hole for your Birkin.
For your Philodendron Birkin to grow in optimal conditions, it needs an above-average humidity level.
Birkins love humidity and thrive in levels between 40% and 70%.
Therefore, you will have to increase humidity, especially if you live in an arid area.
Here is what you can do in that regard:
- Group plants together: Water that naturally evaporates from the plants should raise humidity levels for your Philodendron’s well-being.
- Use a pebble tray: Fill a tray with pebbles and water and put your plant on top.
- Place your plant in your bathroom’s window: This ideal place will provide both lighting and humidity.
- Mist them: You can also mist your plant every two days during spring and summer. During winter and autumn, you can cut it back to twice a week.
- Use a humidifier: This is an easy way to raise humidity levels around your plants.
We would suggest you buy a hygrometer that will help you monitor humidity levels.
If you don’t keep your Birkin in a high humidity environment, its leaves will turn brown on the edges.
In addition, keeping high humidity levels will keep the spider mites away. Indeed, those harmful little beasts love warm, dry environments.
Like we’ve said before, Philodendrons are native to tropical forests (who said Monstera?).
So they like warm temperatures and are harmed by cold.
Hence you must keep your plant in a warm temperature between 55.5 °F (13 °C) and 86 °F (30 °C).
Additionally, the temperature mustn’t drop below 50°F (10°C) lest your plant suffers from cold damage.
The leaves will curl if the plant is cold.
Moreover, drafts are harmful to Birkins. Cold drafts from ventilation or cooling vents can cause cold stress. On the other hand, hot drafts from radiators or heating vents will cause the browning of leaves.
When it comes to fertilizing your Philodendron Birkin, we would suggest a liquid fertilizer.
This way, you can fertilize your plant once a month while at the same time watering it.
Birkins being slow-growing, they can grow without fertilizers.
Nevertheless, it is always good to help your plant a little.
The best time to fertilize is during growing seasons, which means spring and summer.
You can stop fertilizing during winter since your plant won’t be growing anyway.
It is well-known that the best liquid fertilizer is a balanced 20-20-20.
You can follow the instructions on the packaging to avoid any damaging mistakes.
Yes, Philodendron Birkin is toxic if ingested.
Therefore, you should keep your children and pets away from these plants.
Birkins contain calcium oxalate crystals which cause a burning sensation in the stomach when ingested.
Pests and diseases
Spider mites are Philodendron Birkin’s worst enemy. They will feed off of the plant until it dies.
These reddish, small mites will sometimes hide along the stem. However, their favorite spot is on the leaves.
They can cause significant damage to your plant, attacking the leaves until they fall off.
Therefore, you should minutely inspect your plant regularly. Make sure to check both sides of the leaves and pay attention to any light dot-shaped marks.
If you detect spider mites, then you must first quarantine your plant to avoid propagation.
Next, manually remove as many mites as possible using a damp cloth. You may also prune any damaged leaves keeping only the healthy ones.
Afterward, use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or isopropyl alcohol to clean off your plant and kill the remaining bugs.
Don’t miss any corner or leaf since these bugs are experts in hiding.
We would suggest you keep your Birkin separated from your other plants for four weeks at least.
Be sure to inspect it thoroughly before putting it back.
Another pest you may have to deal with is thrips.
These flying bugs like to feed in groups.
They are hard to spot, so pay attention to anything yellow or black on the leaves.
Once detected, you can deal with them the same way as described for spider mites.
When it comes to diseases, Erwinia blight is the dreaded enemy.
Also known as fire blight, this bacterial disease will kill Philodendrons in a matter of a few days.
It will attack at or below the soil and is deadlier on small plants.
The signs of fire blight are simple to spot: water-soaked lesions on the stem and a foul smell.
To save your plant, trim any damaged branches or leaves using pruning shears dipped in isopropyl alcohol.
The best time for propagation is during growing seasons. The best months would be March and April.
You can propagate your Philodendron Birkin only through stem cuttings.
There are a few ways to this purpose, but we will explain the easiest one.
- Start with cutting a piece of stem that’s at least three inches tall. We advise you to use pruning shears.
- Remove lower leaves to avoid them getting in the way later. The lower nodes must be bare. However, you must keep two or three leaves on the top end of the stem.
- Put the cutting in a mason jar filled with water. We suggest letting it sit overnight for chlorine to dissipate before putting the cutting in. The bare leaf nodes should sit in the water.
- Change the water every other day to keep it clean from bacteria. It will increase your chances of success.
- After about ten days, roots will start sprouting.
- Move the jar to somewhere with good indirect bright light. You can follow the previous instructions in the “Light” section.
- Once the roots are an inch tall, plant the cutting in soil. After a week or two, you should see new leaves sprouting.
No, Philodendron Birkins don’t necessarily need pruning. However, you can remove any old or damaged leaves like in the case of spider mites.
Yes. Philodendron Birkins have been known to revert. Sometimes, they’ll revert to Philodendron Rojo Congo. They can also revert to being completely green.
You can buy small plants at 10$ to 30$. Mature plants can cost up to 130$.
No. Philodendron Birkin is self-heading which means it doesn’t need any support. Therefore, it won’t climb.
Philodendron Birkin starts out small, just a few inches tall. However, it can grow up to 3 feet tall indoors if in optimal conditions.
To conclude, Philodendron Birkin is a beautiful and easy plant to grow.
You will only have to provide indirect bright light, high humidity, warm temperatures, well-drained soil, and a well-adjusted watering pattern.
Pests and diseases can kill your plant quickly. Therefore you should always pay attention to any warning signs.
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